Police in Downpatrick are investigating two incidents of suspected racially-motivated hate crime in the O’Donnell Park area of Castlewellan which have taken place within the last 48 hours.
Just after midnight (Thursday 13 April) police received a report of a car which had been set alight outside a property in the area. Police escorted two adults, two children and the family dog from their house as a precaution. The incident is being treated as arson.
In the second incident which took place previously in the early hours of Tuesday morning (11 April), four men broke into the same house in O’Donnell Park and assaulted a lady in her forties.
Inspector Philip Quinn said: “We are appealing for anyone who witnessed these incidents or has information about them to get in touch with us.
“We would ask anyone who saw suspicious activity in the O’Donnell Park or Burrenwood Road area in or around midnight last night to get in touch with us.
“The lady who was assaulted on Tuesday morning described three of her assailants as being dressed completely in black, while the fourth was in a white top and bottoms. Two were wearing monkey hats. I would ask anyone who saw anything that might help us identify these people or who saw anything suspicious in the area around 2.30am to contact police in Downpatrick on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference 97 of 11/4/17.
“This family has been frightened and upset by these two attacks – which had the potential to be much more serious. It is extremely fortunate that no-one was hurt in today’s incident as the fire could have spread to the house in which two young children were sleeping.
“I would like to thank the neighbours who reacted quickly last night – calling the emergency services to the scene and alerting the family.
“If someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.”